Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer, sloth, snow

"Summer is no fun without sloth," writes Charles Simic on The New York Review of Books blog. "Indolence requires patience — to lie in the sun, for instance, day after day — and I have none left."

While I have not been very present on this blog of late, it is not due to sloth. Sloth will have to wait a couple more days. I have patience left, just enough.

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One of the hot books to watch for this month, according to io9 (although the commenters are a bit harsher in their assessment), is The Age of Ice, by J.M. Sidorova.

This bizarre historical novel involves a Russian empress who builds a palace out of ice blocks and forces a disgraced nobleman and a deformed female jester to "marry" there, giving birth to two princes — one of whom discovers later that he's immune to cold. The story of Prince Alexander spans two centuries and three continents, and includes a ton of famous historical figures.

So it's historical fiction, but with a fantasy twist.

There's Russia and there's snow, and these two things in combination call to me.

The Colors of Cold: A New Story from The Age of Ice is available as a free e-book. I snapped it up straight away and I enjoyed it (though I'm not entirely sold on reading a full-length novel in this vein). It definitely reads more like historical fiction than fantasy, but that's not a bad thing.

St. Petersburg in the 1760s was much different than it is now. It was a city cut out generously, for growth, and it had not yet filled its own interstitial spaces. It lay like a fanciful appliqué on the burlap of my country's reality.

The author, a biomedical research scientist, blogs about writing and science at Narratology.

Excerpt.

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I'm still reading Vladimir Sorokin's Ice Trilogy. That is, I'd taken a break from it, but on vacation next week I mean to make headway through the second book.

I also picked up some lighter fare, perhaps more appropriate for poolside reading, Louise Penny's Dead Cold.

Ice, ice, cold. Do you see a trend? It's one way to escape the heat.
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